Cybercrimes can be extraordinarily costly, with losses totaling nearly $600 billion in 2020 alone. That’s a whopping 0.8% of the worldwide gross domestic product. This cybercrime losses figure reflects a remarkable increase over the estimated $445 billion in losses recorded in 2014.
Hacks. Data breaches. Cybercrimes come in many forms, but these figures often fail to take into consideration the impact (and financial losses) occurring from bad press. A significant data leak—especially one involving users’ personal data—can irreparably harm a company’s image, resulting in lost customers who have lost faith in a company’s ability to keep their sensitive information safe and secure.
Why is Data Security So Important for Your Business?
The importance of data security is an issue that many company leaders fail to appreciate until the horses have already left the barn, so to speak. It’s rather remarkable that this is the case because data can represent one of a company’s most valuable business assets.
A breach involving personal data provided by users can lead to a major loss of trust and a public relations nightmare. A leak of a company’s sales and proprietary business data can be disastrous if it lands in the wrong hands, eliminating competitive advantages, among other things. Some companies may even collect or store data with a third-party service provider, only to realize down the road that they do not have full ownership or even control over this information.
These are just a few examples of how data breaches can adversely impact a company in profound ways. The bottom line is this: if you’re collecting, storing, and using data, data security should be front of mind.
Data Security and Third-Party Service Providers
Third-party service providers represent a significant security risk for a company’s data. But practically speaking, it’s often financially prudent to outsource data entry tasks, data capture, and data storage. Some of the most common data-related outsourcing includes:
- Data entry tasks
- Data storage on servers
- Data capture and collection
- Data processing and analysis
These outsourced data services are usually critical for success in our technology- and metrics-driven business world. Yet, it’s often impractical to shift operations in-house to eliminate security risks. This means that you’ll need to understand where the data security risks lie and what measures you can take to keep your data safe.
Data Ownership – Do You Actually Own Your Data?
Keeping your data secure when using outsourced data services requires a multi-pronged approach. The very first and most important point to consider is data ownership. Do you formally own your data?
You may be surprised and even alarmed when you dig a bit deeper and read the fine print. It’s not uncommon for third-party data service providers—especially those that provide solutions to collect and store data—to retain ownership over your data. Often, there is an additional charge to export the data in a manner that allows the company to assume ownership.
How to Keep Outsourced Data Secure
Verifying ownership or taking measures to assume full control of your data is the first step toward achieving a high level of security. Once you’ve overcome this hurdle, it’s time to address a few other areas.
- Establish Clear Expectations With an Outsourced Data Services Provider
- Understand and Review Certifications Such as SOCII (aka SOC 2).
- Review Security Logs and Understand the Efforts in Place.
- Separate IT and Security.
- Establish an In-House Tech Security Team.
- Continually Review Technology and Security Needs as Threats Develop and Evolve.
1. Establish Clear Expectations With an Outsourced Data Services Provider
Clear expectations are critical for success in any business relationship. Set the stage for transparency and strong communication from the outset by discussing expectations such as roles, timelines, project scope, and data ownership. Also, remember to enquire about what measures your machine learning, OCR, or data entry outsourcing partner has implemented to maintain privacy and security from cyber attacks.
2. Understand and Review Certifications Such as SOCII (aka SOC 2).
SOCII or SOC 2 compliance refers to an auditing process designed to ensure data remains private and secure while in the hands of third-party service providers. Developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), this certification is generally considered a non-negotiable core requirement when selecting a service provider, whether it’s a SaaS platform or data services provider. SOCII certifications are issued when criteria is met in five “trust service principles:”
- Confidentiality and Privacy
In order to achieve SOC 2 compliance, the service provider is required to provide clients with a report detailing how it is addressing these key aspects impacting your data’s security. SOCII isn’t the only certification, so take the time to research any certifications that an outsourcing data service provider claims to possess.
3. Review Security Logs and Understand the Efforts in Place.
Security logs can be very enlightening, documenting the time and nature of attempted (and successful) security breaches. These logs can provide a great deal of insight into the nature of the most significant threats to your data’s security. Once you have this information, take time to understand what measures are in place to defend against these security threats. A third-party service provider may not be keen to share specifics due to the very nature of cybersecurity, but they should be able to offer general information on how they’re addressing and defending against threats in an effort to keep your data safe during the data entry process, data capture process, data storage or other data services.
4. Separate IT and Security.
Strong IT solutions and robust security do not necessarily go hand-in-hand, so it’s important to address these separately as you evaluate a service provider. This is true whether you’re working with an offshore data capture or data entry outsourcing partner. For instance, data entry companies may have the most sophisticated OCR and machine learning outsourcing solutions available, but they could lack sufficient security measures to keep your data safe.
5. Establish an In-House Tech Security Team.
Data security and good cybersecurity practices as a whole are vital for success in today’s high-tech business world. Cybersecurity encompasses a broad swath of a company’s operations, extending to your networks, servers, data handling techniques, SaaS solutions, and third-party data service providers, among others. You need to be sure your data is safe from the moment it’s generated. This requires expertise in the company’s IT and technology, in addition to detailed knowledge of the entire data life cycle. An in-house security team is the most efficient way to pool expertise in an effort to oversee data security. This oversight should extend from your company’s premises to data entry outsourcing and beyond.
6. Continually Review Technology and Security Needs as Threats Develop and Evolve.
Technology evolves and advances at a rapid clip; this means your cybersecurity strategy will need to keep pace. Periodic reviews of the latest technology and continual monitoring of the newest security threats can fall within the purview of a company’s in-house IT and data security team. This group should also consult with all third-party data service providers—such as SaaS platforms involving data collection and data capture/data entry outsourcing companies—to verify that they are aware of and reacting to new threats.
Trust Your Data Entry Outsourcing to a Reputable Service Provider
At iTech, we are a SOCII certified service provider specializing in comprehensive cybersecurity, business continuity plans, and the latest technologies such as OCR and machine learning. Contact us today to learn more about how iTech can help your business maintain the highest levels of security while striving to make the most of your data.